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Health > Keeping Fit > Zest


An eager relish to get the most from life, a lively will to tackle its problems - zest is an aspect of personality that fluctuates with our health and state of mind.

Strictly speaking, zest is not a medical term. But it is word commonly used by doctor and patient when discussing lethargy, depression, illness or even behaviour or attitude.

The term zest means great interest, keen enjoyment, a lively and enthusiastic relish for life; it is an attitude of mind which is largely determined by personality type and genetic inheritance. Zest is not something we all have or even should have, but when it is missing from a normally lively person it may be cause for concern.


A loss of zest may be symptomatic of impending illness, anxiety, depression or even poor eating habits or excessive living. If you feel that your zest for life has disappeared, then sit back and take stock of your circumstances.

Are you enjoying a balanced diet, or have you become sluggish through overindulgence and lack of exercise? What about alcohol? It is almost too easy to get into a state of sub-intoxication where the brain is seldom free from the numbing effects of alcohol. Even sleeping pills and tranquillizers can dampen one's energy, and if taken on a regular basis, then the most lively of people may find their 'joie de vivre' waning. A temporary course of drugs may have a similar effect.

Regular sleep and exercise, plenty of play and a holiday - at least once a year involving a complete change of scene are important if one is going to keep one's energy levels high.


Of course, illness and bereavement do drain one's resources, and it often takes considerable time and adjustment before one's normal zest for life returns.

But zest is not just a matter of physical condition and enthusiasm; it is very much a state of mind. If your life-style is rather flat, excitement is missing or you find your work boring and undemanding, then this may affect you mentally and emotionally, producing an attitude of bored indifference to what goes on around you. Only by objectively assessing all aspects of your life can you determine which aspects of it need changing, and once the first steps have been made, you will be surprised how quickly your zest returns.

But if you feel that there is a medical cause behind your loss of zest, do not hesitate to discuss it with your doctor. Simply having a chat may be all that's needed.

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